The other day, a brother sent me this link and asked if I had ever before addressed the topic in a blog post. I replied that I hadn’t (at least so far as I can remember), but this seemed like a wonderful opportunity to do so! Continue reading
- Read 1 Peter 1:3-5. How confident are you about receiving what Peter talks about in these verses?
- Paul was very confident about the path he was on, 2 Timothy 1:12; 4:6-8. He knew where he was going after this life!
- God wants us all to have that same level of confidence. See 1 John 5:13. God wants us to know if we are truly bound for heaven!
- How can we know which spiritual path we are really on?
- Faulty Standards
- Personal feelings.
- Before Paul became a disciple, he was so zealous about his Jewish faith that he persecuted Christians, Acts 26:9-11. He really thought that he was pleasing God in his actions.
- But he was wrong! His personal feelings about how he stood before God was not in line with the truth.
- Listening to preachers.
- I personally wish more people liked preachers, but some people like preachers way too much. Some people trust preachers way too much.
- Some people fail to understand that at the end of the day preachers are men (and they can be wrong). They can be wrong in the things they say and teach.
- Just being “good people.”
- If we could go to heaven based on our own goodness, then why in the world did Jesus have to come here to suffer and die on a cross? No matter how good of a person you may think you are, you are still a sinner and you can’t save yourself, Romans 3:23.
- If being a “good person” could have ever saved anyone, you would think that it would have saved Cornelius, Acts 10:1-2. And yet, notice what he still had to do, Acts 11:13-14.
- All of these things are the wrong standard for receiving the assurance that God wants us to have. Instead of using these faulty standards to determine what spiritual path we may be on, we need to use the right standard. That is the Bible.
- The Bible comes from God, 2 Timothy 3:16. It is the only point of contact that we have between heaven to earth. If we are really going to know God and how to please God and how to find the true path to heaven, then we are going to have to open up the Bible and consider carefully what it has to say.
- How can we know we are heaven bound?
- By examining whether or not we are keeping God’s commandments.
- See 1 John 2:3-5, 28-29; 3:9-10, 24; 5:2-3. Notice how God has commandments that He expects us to keep.
- Which commandments is John referring to? Let me first tell you what commandments He is not referring to.
- He is not referring to the commandments and the traditions of men. Jesus never approves when we put the commandments or traditions of men on the same level as the commandments of God, Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23; 15:7-9.
- He is not referring to the commandments found in the Old Testament law of Moses. Unfortunately, so many people fail to understand that this law was only given to the children of Israel, and then it was only valid up until the time of the cross, John 1:17; Romans 6:14; 7:6-7; Colossians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 3:7-11; Hebrews 8:7-13.
- Instead, He is referring to the commandments found in the New Testament (New Covenant) law of Christ. See Matthew 28:18-20; John 12:48; 14:15, 21; 15:14.
- Which commandments is John referring to? Let me first tell you what commandments He is not referring to.
- What has the Lord commanded us?
- We must be taught about Him and ourselves, John 6:44-45; Romans 3:23.
- We must believe in Him, John 6:68 8:24;14:6; 20:30-31. The very reason why we have the account of Jesus in the gospels is so we have enough evidence to believe in His identity.
- We must repent of sin, Luke 13:3; Acts 2:37-38; 17:30-31. We must turn away from sin – to give up sin and do our best to live lives that are holy before God.
- We must be baptized for the remission of our sins, Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:34-39; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:20-21; Romans 6:3-4.
- While many people deny the need for baptism today, the Bible is very clear on the issue. Notice how both Jesus and His apostles taught that if we are going to be saved then we must be baptized.
- How will we respond to what the Lord has said about this? If we really want to go to heaven, then we won’t argue and quibble over it. Instead, we will just obey! See Luke 6:46.
- We must be faithful to the Lord after baptism. The Bible doesn’t teach the false doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” Instead, it teaches that we must be committed and loyal to the Lord after we decide to begin walking with Him, John 8:31-32; 1 Corinthians 9:27; Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 3:12-14.
- Consider the example we have of the early Christians, Acts 2:41-47. Notice how committed they were to the Lord as members of His church. They devoted themselves to studying the doctrine of the apostles, fellowship, prayer, and breaking bread together (a reference to the Lord’s Supper – see 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; Acts 20:7).
- These disciples were committed to growing and being faithful to Christ, 2 Peter 3:18.
- Someone says, “I want to be baptized, but I don’t feel I have yet reached a level of sinless perfection.” This type of thinking misses the whole point of baptism.
- Baptism is not for people who haven’t sinned (babies and toddlers). Instead, it is for people who have violated the will of God and need to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
- In fact, even after you are baptized, you need to understand that you are going to fall short of the glory of God from time to time. When you do, God commands you to confess your sin and repent, 1 John 1:8-10.
- There are many other commandments the Lord has given us. The point is when we simply do what the Lord says we can live with confidence in regard to our salvation.
- See 1 John 2:3-5, 28-29; 3:9-10, 24; 5:2-3. Notice how God has commandments that He expects us to keep.
- Personal feelings.
- By making sure that we love one another.
- Specifically, you need to make sure that we love those who are fellow members of God’s family, 1 John 3:13-16, 23; 4:11, 19-21.
- Why is this important?
- Because God is love, 1 John 4:8-10.
- Because it is not reasonable to suggest that you love God whom you haven’t seen, when you don’t love your brother who you see all the time, 1 John 4:19-21.
- Because our love for one another is one of the main ways in which we demonstrate to the world that we are truly His disciples, John 13:34-35.
- The Bible tells us how we are to exercise the kind of love God wants us to have.
- We need to treat others like we want to be treated, Matthew 7:12.
- We need to be humble, selfless, and willing to serve one another, Philippians 2:3-5.
- We should be patient towards one another and help each other grow in Christ. We should never be jealous of one another or towards any success another has in their life. We should not be quick to assume the worst in one another’s words and actions. We should be kind and willing to spend time with one another, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
- When we know a brother is in sin, we shouldn’t let him continue down that destructive path. Instead, we should be willing to confront him and help him get on the right track, Galatians 6:1.
- We should be willing to share what we have with one another, 1 John 3:18.
- If we ever have a problem with a brother, we need to be willing to go to him and work that problem out face to face, Matthew 18:15-17.
- How we treat one another has a lot to do with whether or not we will go to heaven.
- Keeping God’s commandments and loving one another are the keys to knowing whether or not we are heaven bound.
- Are you heaven bound? If not, then you need to do something about that right now!
In the comments below my post yesterday of a sermon entitled “Answering Common Challenges”, I received the following question:
“I heard one yesterday I’ve been pondering. The man said that unless you believe in God you will be lost. So what about all those people who have never had the opportunity? I have him some answers but I’d be interested to hear what you think.”
I’ve run into this one before too. The argument goes like this. If we claim that only those who believe in Jesus Christ can be saved from their sins, we are implicitly condemning everyone who never has heard the gospel (say, for instance, a tribesman in the remotest Amazon basin).
If that’s the case, then God is being unfair. After all, those people never had a chance. They are unavoidably lost. As a result, we should conclude that people who have never heard the gospel are somehow saved, perhaps by being good people. Continue reading
Most people are familiar with the birth story of Jesus. They might be confused about how many wise men came to Jesus, where Jesus was when they came, and even when Jesus was born. But most at least know that He was born of a virgin named Mary. They know that He was born in the city of David (Bethlehem). They know that the angels of God celebrated after His birth was announced to shepherds in the field (Luke 2:8-18).
Personally, I am glad that many are aware of the amazing events surrounding the birth of our Lord. But there is one big thing that still bothers me. It is not the birth story of our Lord, but the way it is sometimes presented. Unfortunately, through various media outlets, the birth story of Jesus is often presented as though it was the end of something, rather than the beginning. Have you ever seen on television (maybe on the Hallmark channel) as the manger scene reaches a conclusion Silent Night softly plays in the background, then we cut to a commercial and you see “Next up: A Charlie Brown Christmas”? While it is true that Jesus was born and placed in a manger that is not the end of the story! This child was born with a specific purpose and mission from God. Luke 2:14 is one verse of many that declares the mission of our Lord.
While appearing to shepherds in the field the angels of God announced, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
This particular verse is often abused by religious teachers. So often it is interpreted that we ought to be at peace with one another and have goodwill towards others during the holiday season and year round. While it is indeed good that we do that, unfortunately that interpretation really misses the whole point of the verse. Kept in its context this verse is really talking about peace and goodwill from God to men on earth. It is a verse about the gospel and what it brings to mankind. It is a verse about Jesus and what He offers. The prophets foretold that Jesus would bring peace (Isaiah 9:6).
The gospel we preach today is a message of peace and glad tidings (Romans 10:15). It is a message that not only reveals the miraculous birth of the Savior, but it also speaks of His love, miracles, suffering, death on the cross, resurrection, and ascension to heaven to sit at the right hand of God (Acts 2:22-36). The gospel reveals the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 3:16; Titus 2:11-14). The word grace means “unmerited favor.” It is an undeserved gift. Despite our rebellion against Him, God gave us His sinless Son to die on the cross for our sins. Through Jesus, God’s grace is now available to all men. Does the fact that God’s grace is made available to everyone mean that everyone is going to be saved? No (see Matthew 7:13-14)! Only those who obey and submit to God will receive the grace God offers. Salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). Grace covers all that God has done for us. Faith covers all we must do in response to God’s love. This even includes repentance and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). The faith that saves is the faith that obeys (Hebrews 5:8-9)! The fact that we have to meet conditions does not mean we earn God’s grace and peace.
Have you done what God requires to receive the gifts of grace and peace? You may receive many material things on Christmas morning, but no gift can ever compare to the gifts God offers you through His Son.
– Shawn Jeffries
Did you do any shopping on Black Friday? Most Americans did. Black Friday is often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Millions of people rush to the nearest Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, or Macy’s in order to find the best deals on big screen televisions, tablets, video game consoles, clothing, smart phones, Blue Ray/DVD players, and a host of other items. Each year I try to tell myself I won’t get involved with Black Friday, but the super deals and ability to save hundreds of dollars consistently changes my mind. I am a huge fan of getting more, while paying less!
Where did the term “Black Friday” come from? Many retailers are said to traditionally operate at a financial loss (“in the red”) from January to November. But Black Friday indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or get “in the black.” For a store like Wal-Mart, their net income is positive starting on January 1, and Black Friday can boost their year to date net profit from $14 billion to $19 billion. I always thought the name “Black Friday” was given due to aggressive crowds in many stores. There is just something negative about annual reports of assaults, shootings, and throngs of people trampling on other shoppers in an attempt to get the best deal on the product they want before it runs out.
Our culture is obsessed with the Friday after Thanksgiving. But did you know there is a “Black Friday” in the Bible? Don’t misunderstand. There wasn’t a day when hundreds of Jews went to a Macy’s or Wal-Mart to purchase expensive products for half the price. But there was a Friday in which the land of Judea was literally dark for hours because God’s plan to save us from our sins was at work.
Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.
Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
– Matthew 27:41-46
Although the death of the perfect and sinless Son of God provided a literal dark time on the face of the earth, spiritually men had never seen anything brighter. Because of sin, every person of an accountable age deserves to be lost in hell forever (Romans 3:23; 6:23). But through the death of Jesus the penalty for our sins was paid (Romans 5:6-9). Now we can be reconciled to God and be saved. This is only made possible because 2,000 years ago Deity stepped out of heaven, walked on this earth, lived a perfect life, and gave Himself as a sin sacrifice.
What a paradox we find at the cross! What happened at the cross was the darkest moment in human history (a literal black Friday). And yet, mankind has never seen a brighter moment. While men are killing the Son of God He was giving the most wonderful gift ever given to man – the gift of salvation. While there is nothing wrong with shopping on the day our culture calls “Black Friday,” never forget to thank God for the events that took place on that Friday 2,000 years ago.
– Shawn Jeffries
Recently I’ve been learning about the religious phenomenon of “Muslim-Background Believers” (MBB). That is, people who live in predominately Muslim lands, or even grew up in Muslim households, are leaving the religion of their youth for the gospel message. Their conversion stories are gripping, inspiring, and abundant.
Some MBB remain in their homelands and face terrible persecution at the hands of their families, their neighbors, and their governments where apostasy is a capital crime (I Am N, Voice of the Martyrs, 2016). Many must flee their nation to preserve their lives (Islam and Terrorism, Mark A. Gabriel, 2015). I’ve benefited greatly from a number of books written by MBB that share an insider’s perspective on Islam, contrasting it with the Christian Faith (Unveiling Islam, Caner & Caner, 2009; Understand My Muslim People, Abraham Sarker, 2004). These books and many more encourage Christians to understand Muslim backgrounds, offer answers to Islam’s objections to Christianity, and explore ways to help other Muslims leave Islam (Answering Islam, Geisler & Saleeb, 2003; Beyond Opinion, Ravi Zacharias, 2010).
What is drawing Muslims out of Islam? Why are they willing to risk such great personal cost? I’m learning that it’s the same compelling evidence and message that draws all people to Jesus. Listen to some of the reasons:
“These converts evidently found something in Christianity that they felt was lacking in Islam. Many are attracted to the figure of Jesus, others find the Christian dogma of forgiveness of sins comforting, and still others are impressed by the charitable behavior of individual Christians around them. But if there is a common thread running through these conversion testimonies, it is that Christianity preaches the love of Christ and God, whereas Islam is forever threatening hellfire for disobeying, and obsessively holds up the wrath of God in front of the believer. In other words, the two religions have two totally different conceptions of God: In the former, God is near, loving, and protective, God the Father, in the latter, God is a remote, angry, tyrannical figure to be obeyed blindly.” – Ibn Warraq, Leaving Islam, p.92
“Muslims are drawn to the love of Christ, and this is a big responsibility as well as a blessing. When I read the New Testament, what amazed and astounded me the most was the teaching on love, not only toward one’s kin and kindred, but even toward one’s enemies. It was so different from my training in Islam that it actually made me angry that someone could suggest something so obviously impossible. But as I continued reading, the reality of it entered my heart and changed my life.” – Sam Soloman, Beyond Opinion, p.78
“After one year of reading the Bible in an honest way, I understand now what happened to me. I found my way to God, the real God, the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope now for all the people I love, my family, my friends, and everyone else to change also and begin to read the Bible in an honest way. I am sure that God will help them find their way.” – Desert Son, a Saudi Arabian Muslim convert to Christianity, Leaving Islam, p.95
“Christianity is life, Islam is death” – an Algerian Muslim convert to Christianity, El Youm (an Algerian Arabic daily, December, 2000)
People, any people, can be drawn to Jesus by the Word of God. The Father draws people to Jesus by the teaching of Scripture (John 6:44-45). So when people honestly read the Bible they discover the gospel of Jesus. Jesus’ gospel is the true message of light (John 8:12), life (John 11:25), and love (John 15:10-15)! It is the Word of Truth (1 Peter 1:22-25) and the Power to Salvation (Romans 1:16). Nothing compares to the New Testament because the gospel is true and world religions are false. Faith is founded on the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
People have all sorts of backgrounds – religious and irreligious. People have all sorts of baggage – sin and guilt. And all people have the same appointment to keep – death and judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Will you have the Savior on that day?
Are you drawn to Jesus?
Will you help others learn about Him from the Bible?
By Andrew Roberts
On this MLK Day it is good to pause and reflect upon the incredible life’s work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He modeled peaceful protest and cast a vision for genuine racial equality in a nation that had been framed with the words, “all men are created equal.” Dr. King died for this cause nearly 48 years ago. Sadly, recent events demonstrate that racial strife still simmers in the hearts of some Americans with occasional eruptions of violence and lawlessness in various places around the country.
What can change the hearts of men and transform aliens and enemies into brothers and sisters? The gospel of Jesus Christ can do it. That’s what every person needs. Racism and hatred is sinful. Murder, theft, and revenge are sinful. Injustice and crime demand requital. But as men seek to “even the score,” only greater inequities are achieved. Human beings are not a perfectly Just, Omniscient, and Holy “scorekeeper” to make everything right. Only God can do that. God promises perfect Justice and Righteous Judgment in the end (Acts 17: 30-31; Romans 12:19-21; Revelation 20:11-15). Yet, for today, His Word reveals grace and forgiveness that truly makes peace and allows for healing through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The answer for hatred is a changed heart and that’s something the gospel achieves. But it means we look at ourselves and our problems from a different perspective – from God’s perspective found in the Bible.
First, God created all mankind. Human life is sacred and human beings share a fundamental dignity because we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28; 9:5-7). We all have common ancestors in Noah, as well as Adam and Eve. The apostle Paul preached concerning the true God, “He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth…so that they should seek the Lord…” (Acts 17:26-27). No matter the nation, tribe, or language someone speaks, we are the brotherhood of humanity. And regardless if another person is aware of this Bible truth, because I am aware of it, I have the responsibility of treating that person accordingly.
Second, all have sinned. Clearly people do not treat each other like we are all one big human family. Hate, theft, murder, war, deception, evil speech, and evil surmising too often characterize our human interactions. All such evil proceeds from a defiled heart (Matthew 15:18-19). It is sinful and evidences the reality of sin – the Bible diagnosis for the wickedness we do against God and our fellow man. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Our ancestor Adam sinned by transgressing God’s rule and each of us since has transgressed the teachings of God. Cain murdered his brother Abel and such sins of hatred and violence have separated brothers from each other and from God throughout the ages.
Third, the gospel is for all. But God devised a plan wherein peace could be achieved between Him and His creation as well as brotherhood fashioned between sinners. According to Ephesians 2:11-18, God created one body, His church, the body of redeemed sinners in Jesus Christ. Brotherhood is restored there. Sins are forgiven in Jesus, by the sacrifice He made to pay for them. Sinners are reconciled to God and restored in forgiveness and salvation toward one another. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ teaches Christians (members of that body) how to treat others – with the grace and forgiveness that we have found in Him (Matthew 6:14-15). The gospel changes our mind and heart (Romans 1:16; 12:1-2). We see ourselves and the world around us differently. And we are taught to treat others differently, to seek their welfare and the salvation of their soul above all else (Philippians 2:1-11).
The evil of hatred is ancient. The answer to hatred is timeless: the gospel. But one virtue of MLK Day is to remind us how timely the gospel is to answer hatred, as well as all our sins and iniquities.
By Andrew Roberts
Confession time: I know I don’t always give “the perfect gift” to my loved ones. My family is so gracious, I’ve probably missed even more often than I realize.
Even with the best of intentions, I’ve fallen short in creativity or attention to detail. My second-guessing and insecurity about this is heightened during the holidays, so I save receipts. They can always exchange a gift when it is the wrong color, wrong size, or otherwise unwanted. And there are no hard feelings about it. I’ve chosen to exchange gifts myself. Haven’t we all?
But God is not this sort of gift-giver. Rather, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Our good Father gives us exactly what we need when we need it (Matthew 7:11). There are no genuine exchanges for something better. Better gifts do not exist! In fact, only deception, foolishness, or selfishness would move people to exchange God’s good gifts for the devil’s inferior and damnable knock-offs. Let’s notice three of God’s gifts that the Bible warns us never to exchange.
- Never Exchange the Truth of God for Lies. The Wise man advised his son, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it; Also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). The apostle Paul explained that wicked, idolatrous societies have exchanged the gift of Truth for lies and reap the disastrous results. “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 1:24-25). God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17) and Scripture is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Perhaps we fail to recognize that every word from God is a gift from Him, the gift of Truth. The Bible is a good and perfect gift from God.
- Never Exchange The Faith for Worldly Philosophies. There is only one faith, one gospel, and the doctrine of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:5; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 John 9-10). Paul exhorted the young minister Timothy to guard the faith and don’t exchange it for fashionable worldly philosophies. “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21). Likewise, Christians at Colosse were warned. “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Let us respect Christianity as it is revealed in Scripture and not attempt to wed it to worldly philosophies or discard it in favor of man-made religions. The Faith is a good and perfect gift from God.
- Never Exchange Salvation for Sin. The greatest gift that God gives us is salvation in Jesus Christ. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). This gift is priceless because it is only obtainable by the precious death of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:26; 1 Peter 1:18-21). Yet Temptation often offers us something in exchange for our salvation. The Hebrew writer warns Christians to view temptation to sin like Moses, these things are only “passing pleasures” and not worth exchanging our eternal reward (Hebrews 11:24-26). Furthermore, learn from Esau not to be shortsighted by the selfishness of the flesh to exchange our birthright of salvation (Hebrews 12:15-17). Salvation is a good and perfect gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10).
God only gives perfect gifts. He doesn’t include gift receipts. The devil tries to fool us into thinking he can make an exchange for something better. But remember that no matter how Sin wraps the package, it only contains error, apostasy, and death (James 1:14-15). Never exchange God’s good gifts for that.
By Andrew Roberts
I felt, with many believers, frustration and righteous indignation at the recent New York Daily News cover story. “Prayer” is disdained as mere platitudes and God (along with those who look to Him for guidance, comfort, and protection from evil) is mocked. The headline suggests that God is absent or aloof when people are “lying in pools of blood.” Ironically, those with the courage to publicly affirm their faith in God and call for prayer are denounced as cowards. These are the times when Christians have a lot of praying to do – especially for their enemies (Matthew 5:44-45).
“GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.” What an ideology. What a message. If hurting families are robbed of the spiritual solace and support of their neighbor’s prayers, what is left? If the sovereign, holy God will not right all wrongs on His Day of Reckoning, what is left? If all our hope and future rests solely on the shoulders of mere men – elected officials – and their proper governance, what is left?
This incendiary message amounts to a bold public confession of despair. The Bible says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Yet when we are overcome by evil, the result is despair.
- If you begrudge prayers for victim’s families, you have despaired.
- If you blame God for the evil actions of men, you have despaired. (This statement is in recognition that the God these politicians are invoking is not the same one that Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook were serving with their assault rifles. The Muslim shooters were acting in accordance with the written decrees of their god and so he reasonably shares some culpability.)
- If you conclude that the highest power in heaven and earth is mankind, well, how could you not despair? Evil has overcome you.
Evil will overcome us…
- Evil will overcome us if we try to overcome evil with government. “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS” so the government better. The government can “end [the] gun scourge.” The government can fix everything, right? The government has omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, right? The government can save us, right? The Bible says, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord!” (Isaiah 31:1; cf. Psalm 20:7). Ancient Israel made the mistake of looking to government (either their own or national allies) instead of God to deliver them from evil. The prophet encountered the-“GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS”-message in his day and made clear that impressive horses and chariots cannot overcome evil. Don’t put your trust there. Government cannot overcome evil. If this is the plan, then, “Hello, Despair.”
- Evil will overcome us if we try to overcome evil with another law. Obviously the answer to the murders in San Bernardino is another law restricting gun ownership. At least that’s where the New York Daily News seemed to be going with their piece. It’s just so logical: If law-abiding citizens can no longer purchase guns then law-breaking murderers will not possibly acquire them either.
My point here isn’t so much about gun control. A person can become a Christian, faithfully serve God, and go to Heaven whether their nation allows them the right to bear arms or not. My point is about law, in general. We are inviting despair if we think a stricter law or more laws will overcome evil – any laws. Law has never delivered people from evil. People break laws! Law would overcome evil only if it was kept perfectly (Galatians 3:10; James 2:10-11). Whether we are talking about the U.S. Constitution, the Law of Moses, or the Law of Christ, only Jesus Christ has ever kept a law perfectly, none of the rest of us. Jesus Christ can overcome evil but another law in our justice system cannot. Of course we need law and order and government has a role ordained by God (Romans 13:1-7). A law names and convicts evil. But if another law or a harsher law is our answer to overcome evil… “Hello, Despair.” Somebody will break the new law too, eventually.
- Evil will overcome us if we try to overcome evil without God. In Romans 1 we read of a society that knew God but rejected Him. They chose willful ignorance of the true God. What does that look like? “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality…murder…deceit, evil-mindedness…haters of God, violent, proud…inventors of evil things…unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful…” (Romans 1:28-31). It looks like San Bernardino and a myriad of other reports on the evening News.
What do you think? Are parents talking about God to their children, so that they might “retain God in their knowledge”? Do the halls of Academia “retain God in their knowledge” as they present either science or the humanities to educate our populace? Do public officials or religious leaders “retain God in their knowledge” when they preach to the masses that all gods and religions are basically the same and thus shape public opinion and policy?
Surely it can’t be both ways. If we ignore, forget, or despise God then we cannot decry “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.” We are overcome with evil. “Hello, Despair.”
Yet evil is overcome with good (Romans 12:21). Friend, there is no good without God (Matthew 19:16-17; James 1:16-17).
- Evil is overcome with God by the gospel. Governments and laws won’t overcome evil but the gospel can. The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1:16). The gospel changes our state with God and justifies us by forgiving our sins based on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-26; 5:6-11). A sinner dies to sin and gets a new life when they are baptized (immersed in water) and buried into Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-14). Their heart is changed. Their mind is renewed. Their life is transformed from the world around them (Romans 12:1-2)… a world currently intent on forgetting God. Evil is overcome by God, not false religions, not governments, not laws, and not practical atheism. His plan to overcome evil by defeating Sin is the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:27). Evil is overcome one soul at a time as they respond to the gospel.
- Evil is overcome with God by prayer. I don’t know if I will vote for any of the men on the cover of this paper. I don’t know if any of them will even be on the ballot by the time elections roll around. But they got it right when they asked a nation to pray for neighbors and victims. Bible believers know to pray for the hurting, their leaders, pray for peace, pray for all the saints, pray for boldness, and pray for their enemies (1 Timothy 2:1-4; Ephesians 6:18-20; Acts 4:29; Philippians 4:6-7; Matthew 5:44-45). They also know to keep praying during dark times (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- Evil is overcome with God by love. God loves sinners and Jesus died to redeem them regardless of how they have sinned (John 3:16). You and I are no more sinless than Muslim terrorists or the editors at New York Daily News. We are all equally lost apart from God’s love and gracious salvation. Love is shown and known when it touches the despairing. The gospel of Jesus Christ is what people need to hear right now. “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS” is a bold confession of despair. Let Christians hear it for what it is – an angry and rebellious child pushing away the only parent whose love can make things better. Aren’t our arms tired of pushing God away? Aren’t we ready to surrender our personal rebellions to God? We must come to God through the gospel of Jesus Christ who fixes us by His love and teaches us to love our neighbors also (Romans 13:8-10; Titus 2:11-14).
“Innocent Americans” are not “left lying in pools of blood” because there has been too much God in this society or too much prayer. “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS” is a bold confession of despair, especially when the truth is so obvious – only God can fix this. Only the gospel changes people. The Bible – God’s Word – has the answers. Who will share it with others? Who will listen and respond?
By Andrew Roberts
“…One- hundred two dollars and sixty four cents.” As you hear these numbers roll off of the cashiers tongue, you can’t help but be ecstatic. You’re tired, you’re wounded, beaten, and your feet are in distress, but you’re thrilled. You have just purchased a two hundred dollar T.V. for almost half the original sales price.
Strange things start to happen the Friday after Thanksgiving. Walmart’s become dojos, Parking lots turn into campsites, malls seem to be hosting the annual Olympic track and field games, and millions of people all across America simply lose their minds.
What is the cause for this madness? Two words: Black Friday.
Black Friday signifies the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. On this day, major retailers open their doors exceptionally early, welcoming throngs of people who are seeking these one-time promotional sales. On this day, we get a glimpse of the incredible lengths many will go to save a pretty penny.
On a Friday just a little over two thousand years ago, we got a glimpse of the incredible lengths God was willing to go to save this world from destruction. Much like this past Friday, strange things happened. There was betrayal, suicide, injustices, riots, mocking’s, scourging’s, crucifixions, redemption, and death.
The earth witnessed supernatural phenomena. At high noon, there was an unusual three hour period of darkness. The curtain to the temple was spontaneously torn in two, the earth shook, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and dead men rose.
“When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’,” Matthew 27:54
This was a dark day indeed. The Son of Man was killed.
On this day, 1,500 years of prophecy was fulfilled; it was finished.
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished’, and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit”, John 19:30
The blood of bulls and goats could no longer atone for the sins of men. A sacrifice had to be made. (Hebrews 10:4).
Someone had to die. This someone had to be perfect, He had to be blameless, He had to be sinless, He had to be the Son of God. The pure, undefiled, innocent, and spotless Lamb of God was slain for the sins of the world.
On this very dark and black Friday, there was a ray of hope. Hope lied in the resurrection. Not only did Jesus die for man, but three days later He got up.
“Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen! Remember how He told you the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise”, Luke 24:6-7
Today, we can bask in even greater savings than any earthly Black Friday deal. On this Friday, over 2,000 years ago, despite our wretched and sinful nature, Jesus gave up His life, paying the ultimate price for our very lives, and saved the word.
By Timothy G. Ruffin